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LSU debuts at No. 13 in the USA Today/coaches top 25

(Travis Spradling)

(Travis Spradling)

LSU is a top 15 team. At least that’s what college football’s coaches think.

The Tigers debuted at No. 13 in the USA Today/coaches preseason poll released Thursday – the first of the two major rankings revealed. The AP poll is set for release Aug. 23. The coaches poll releases exactly a week before LSU opens fall camp, next Thursday.

LSU is ranked in the USA Today/coaches preseason poll for the 15th straight season.

Ohio State is ranked No. 1, and three SEC teams are ahead of the Tigers in the rankings: 3 Alabama, 7 Auburn, 9 Georgia. LSU plays four teams ranked in the poll, including 20 Arkansas and 15 Ole Miss. Tennessee is 25th, and Missouri is 23rd. Mississippi State and Texas A&M are receiving the most points of those not in the poll.

Here’s the full poll.

LSU finished last season unranked in the AP and USA Today/coaches poll for the first time since 2008, as the Tigers slid to an 8-5 finish, capped with a 31-28 loss to Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl.

LSU was ranked No. 13 in the USA Today/coaches preseason poll last year and the year before. The first regular-season poll this year is scheduled to be released Sept. 8. The final regular-season poll is scheduled to be released Dec. 6.

The voting panel, consisting of 64 Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches, is chosen conference by conference by the American Football Coaches Association via a random draw. A coach must indicate to the AFCA his willingness to participate before his name is included in the pool.

Les Miles is voting in this year’s poll.

Miles and his crew have had an active off-season. Three players have transferred, including highly touted defensive recruits Clifton Garrett and Travonte Valentine, and five players were arrested in a month span.

Anthony Jennings, last year’s starting quarterback and a guy expected to compete for the gig with Brandon Harris in fall camp, remains suspended along with two others for his arrest on unauthorized entry into an inhabited dwelling. DA Hillar Moore on Wednesday suggested the case against Jennings and others could be dropped soon.

LSU in the coaches preseason poll…final poll since 2008

  • 2014: 13…NR
  • 2013: 13…14
  • 2012: 1…12
  • 2011: 4…2
  • 2010: 16…8
  • 2009: 9…17
  • 2008: 6…NR

LSU’s starting lineup, according to Les Miles

Les Miles. (AP)

Les Miles. (AP)

LSU has yet to release a fall camp starting lineup or depth chart. The school didn’t have one in its fall prospectus handed out at media days and didn’t provide one at the end of spring.

In a sense, LSU coach Les Miles provided one Wednesday during his yearly address to the Baton Rouge Rotary Club. Based on Miles’ comments, here’s LSU’s starting group heading into camp with additional comments from Miles on each position:

QB

  • Anthony Jennings/Brandon Harris

“Brandon Harris is taking much of the summer snaps and we also think that Anthony Jennings is at a point … both of those two guys will compete and the best guy’s going to be our quarterback.” Here’s more news on the arrest of Jennings and others from DA Hillar Moore.

WR

  • Travin Dural
  • Malachi Dupre
  • D.J. Chark
  • John Diarse
  • Trey Quinn

Miles said Dural “might be the best receiver that we have. Deep threat. I think he’s maturing.”

Miles on Trey Quinn: “Smart as a whip and knows everybody’s assignment. You just can’t afford not to play him.” Quinn didn’t play for much of last season after dropping two to three critical passes in the loss to Alabama.

RB

  • Leonard Fournette
  • Darrel Williams
  • Derrius Guice
  • Nick Brossette

“Leonard Fournette should be a Heisman contender,” Miles said.

FB

  • John David Moore

Miles flatly said that Moore will be LSU’s starting fullback.

OL

  • LT: Jerald Hawkins
  • LG: Ethan Pocic
  • C: Will Clapp
  • RG: Josh Boutte
  • RT: Vadal Alexander

    Will Clapp has settled into his role at center, coach Les Miles said Wednesday. (Angela Major)

    Will Clapp has settled into his role at center, coach Les Miles said Wednesday. (Angela Major)

Miles said that Boutte is “the largest man I have ever known.”

As a whole of the line: “We will have some youth mixed with some veterans. Big, strong and capable. I would guess they would really compete well.” He specifically named those five as the starters in those spots.

DL

  • DE: Tashawn Bower
  • DT: Christian LaCouture
  • DT: Davon Godchaux
  • DE: Lewis Neal

Just like the offensive line, Miles named those four players as starters, but he did say several young players could see time at end, including freshmen Arden Key and Isaiah Washington.

“We’re not going to be fearful to play some freshmen. This Arden Key, I think, is a guy we’re going to have to give a look to,” Miles said. “I like this Isaiah Washington, guy has more athleticism and speed. Gives us a chance to get on the field and pass rush. Arden Key is reminded to me of a young Keke Mingo.”

Miles on the defense overall: “If the young ends come to life, we’re as good as we need to be. Period.”

Deion Jones, as expected, will be a starter this year, Miles said. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Deion Jones, as expected, will be a starter this year, Miles said. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

LB

  • SLB: Lamar Louis/Duke Riley
  • MLB: Kendell Beckwith
  • WLB: Deion Jones

Miles named those four linebackers, grouping together Louis and Riley, suggesting they’ll share that starting role and rotate.

Miles called the group “the glue to the defense.”

“We should have great speed. It’s always important in that spot,” he said.

DB

  • CB: Tre’Davious White
  • S: Jamal Adams/Rickey Jefferson
  • S: Jalen Mills/Rickey Jefferson
  • CB: Donte Jackson/Ed Paris

Surprisingly, Miles did not mention Ed Paris or Kevin Toliver, who are expected to compete for the CB spot opposite White. That might just be oversight by Miles, but the coach did specifically mention freshman Donte Jackson. He said Jackson ran a 4.36 40-yard dash recently.

“We’d expect he be fast enough to play corner,” Miles said.

Miles mentioned three safeties: Jefferson, Adams and Mills. He did not mention suspended DB Dwayn Thomas.

P

  • Jamie Keen
  • Josh Growden

KO

  • Trent Domingue/Cameron Gamble

Miles specifically said these two will “compete.”

PK

  • Colby Delahoussaye

Les Miles to DA Hillar Moore: ‘I’m on your schedule'; Moore suggests charges could be dropped

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore suggested Wednesday that the charges against LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings and two other football players could be dropped and that the case would be decided “fairly soon.”

Moore, speaking to reporters at the Baton Rouge Rotary Club meeting, said that if Jennings’ case didn’t involve athletes, it would likely have been dismissed already.

“If this was a regular case, take football out of it, if it just involved a regular LSU student, you wouldn’t have known it happened. It would routinely be dismissed,” he said. “I’m taking my time to get it right.”

The victim in the the ordeal has asked that the case be dismissed, Moore said. Moore is waiting on the transcripts of interviews from those involved in the case. He said he was supposed to get the transcripts Tuesday.

“It could be today or tomorrow,” he said from the Rotary Club meeting, held  in the club area of the new south end zone addition to Tiger Stadium.

At the same event, coach Les Miles added some fuel to the fire  during his yearly speech to Rotary Club members and guests.

Les Miles addresses the Rotary Club.

Les Miles addresses the Rotary Club.

Miles spoke directly to Moore during his address to the hundreds gathered before him.

“I’m right there with you. You hear me? As we have always operated, I’m on your schedule,” Miles said, pointing to Moore, sitting in a far corner of the room. “You tell me what you need to tell me, and I will operate accordingly. I promise you.”

The room burst into laughter before Miles added, “Please don’t write that in the paper. Please don’t write that.”

Moore spoke to reporters before and after Miles’ speech regarding the incident involving Jennings, defensive back Dwayne Thomas and defensive lineman Maquedius Bain. He hasn’t formally charged the three.

All three were arrested for unauthorized entry into an inhabited dwelling after walking into the apartment of a fellow student to retrieve items allegedly stolen from Jennings a week before. Jennings filed a police report for the stolen items. Thomas was also booked on simple burglary.

All three have been suspended since their arrest on June 18, throwing a wrench into the heated starting quarterback battle between Jennings and sophomore Brandon Harris.

This is the third straight season in which a key LSU football player’s arrest has his status hanging in the balance ahead of fall camp. RB Jeremy Hill was reinstated to the team hours before fall camp began after a judge did not send Hill to jail for violating his probation.

Last year, defensive back Jalen Mills’ charges were lessened to a misdemeanor, news Moore announced just after midnight on the day camp began. Both players participated in the opening day of camp.

LSU opens camp next Thursday.

“Unfortunately this seems to happen every year,” Moore said. “It’s frustrating for me and for the coaches, I’m sure. These are all young kids who make stupid mistakes.”

Miles over the last several weeks has said that Jennings will return to the team and said he’s “optimistic” about the arrested players and that a resolution is coming soon. He suggested Jennings’ return again Wednesday.

“Brandon Harris is taking much of the summer snaps and we also think that Anthony Jennings is at a point … both of those two guys will compete and the best guy’s going to be our quarterback,” Miles said.

LSU OF Sciambra trades spikes for kicking shoe at Nicholls

LAKE CHARLES — First-year Nicholls State football coach Tim Rebowe is not opposed to taking players that can help him continue to build a program that hasn’t won a game since October 2013 — even baseball players.

As a result, former LSU outfielder Chris Sciambra, who last month completed a four-year career with the Tigers, will compete with three other kickers next month when the Colonels open training camp.

Sciambra, who was a kicker at Catholic High in Baton Rouge, joined the LSU football team last season but didn’t play a down. With a year of eligibility remaining, he decided to give it a try at Nicholls State.

“One of the baseball coaches contacted me during the spring and said he may be interested in coming to kick for us,” Rebowe said at Southland Conference media day on Wednesday. “When the season was over and they finished in Omaha, he contacted us and we got his release.”

Rebowe is hoping some of the success Sciambra had with Paul Mainieri’s baseball team will carry over to his new teammates at Nicholls State.

“He’s such a mature young man, I think he’s already graduated,” Rebowe said. “I think he can bring some of the leadership skills, some of the things he learned and how they were successful over there at baseball.

“In the locker room, he’s not a ‘rah-rah’ guy,” he said, “but hopefully he can rub off on some of the players in there.”

Top 9 Things To Watch In Fall Camp (before the media get kicked out): 8. Maea Teuhema and Toby Weathersby

Maea Teuhema was one of the best offensive guard prospects in the nation last year.

Maea Teuhema was one of the best offensive guard prospects in the nation last year.

LSU players report for fall camp on Aug. 5 so we’re counting down to that day with a daily blog series on things to watch during camp. Traditionally, the media has been cut off from viewing practices at some point during camp so we might have to be quick with the observations.

No. 8: Freshmen offensive linemen Maea Teuhema and Toby Weathersby

Who’s Involved: Maea Teuhema and Toby Weathersby

The Scoop: Few offensive linemen can start at the major college level immediately. It’s a position that takes more experience than most.  But if anyone’s going to do it, it’s probably these two.

Teuhema was ranked as high as the No. 1 offensive guard in the nation, and Weathersby was ranked as high as the No. 5 tackle. They both earned Under Armour All-American game invitations, and both are big, strong players ranked four or five stars by recruiting services.

Don’t sleep on them eventually seeing some playing time, despite the long odds. Freshmen just don’t play that much early. For instance, Garrett Brumfield was rated the No. 1 offensive guard in the land by one recruiting service in last year’s class and redshirted last season. Ethan Pocic, talked about now as one of the best linemen at LSU, played in six games as a freshmen with just one start.

Jerald Hawkins, now a starter at left tackle, redshirted as a freshman. Vadal Alexander is the only current Tiger who eventually developed into a starter during his freshman season in 2012.

What Will We Watch Happen: Neither player will likely be an every game starter, but O-line coach Jeff Grimes is expected to do some shuffling during fall camp with such a big O-lineman signing class.

Weathersby and Teuhema aren’t the only big uglies in this group. The Tigers signed five offensive linemen in 2015, helping boost a position group that had some depth issues last season at times. Adrian Magee, George Brown Jr. and Chidi Valentine-Okeke are all part of a position class lauded at National Signing Day in February.

What will Grimes’ shuffling entail? Who knows, but the three interior line positions appear to be up for grabs. The tackle spots – Hawkins at left and Alexander at right – seem booked, but offensive linemen suffer more injuries than the normal position group, especially during the brutal conditions of camp.

The Countdown

  • No. 9: Fournette returning kicks
  • No. 8: OL Maea Teuhema and Toby Weathersby
  • No. 7: ? (Thursday)
  • No. 6: ? (Friday)
  • No. 5: ? (Saturday)
  • No. 4: ? (Sunday)
  • No. 3: ? (Monday)
  • No. 2: ? (Tuesday)
  • No. 1: ? (Wednesday)

Twitter Mailbag: You asked about LSU baseball players transferring, the QB battle, the football schedule and more

Danny Zardon is transferring to NAIA's Nova Southeastern, where he can play immediately. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Danny Zardon is transferring to NAIA’s Nova Southeastern, where he can play immediately. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Twitter Mailbag is a blog series running each Tuesday answering readers’ questions about the LSU football team. Readers submit their questions through Twitter each Tuesday, and the best are posted here with answers. Follow us on Twitter at @DellengerAdv to submit a question.

It’s pretty clear that Zardon left for playing time. Mainieri said he and Zardon had an “honest” conversation in which the coach couldn’t promise Zardon an everyday starting spot. At that point, Zardon decided to transfer.

Byrd’s decision surprised Mainieri, the coach said. Byrd seemed poised to compete for a starting position, though him getting one may have been tough. LSU has a host of position freshmen and junior college transfers coming in who are expected to compete for starting spots at the seven open jobs, including all four in the infield.

Byrd’s summer ball season was cut short because of arm soreness, Mainieri said.

“I still wanted him to come back,” the coach said. “I can’t say what chances he would have had on starting. I can’t say he would have had the inside track. He needed to prove he was worthy. He didn’t have that opportunity to do that this summer with 50-60 at-bats.”

The Tigers are favored in all but two games: at Alabama (+9) and at Ole Miss (PICK). With the uncertainty at QB, it’s tough to see LSU going 10-2, but it’s not out of the question.

The Tigers look solid at offensive line and are deep and talented at the receiver and running back spots. On defense, LB Kendell Beckwith and S Jamal Adams appear to be two of of the best in the conference – if not the nation.

Put it all together and LSU could contend for a championship – if it gets better play from the QB position. It can’t get much worse of play. Anthony Jennings had the lowest completion percentage (48.9) for an LSU starting QB last year since Marcus Randall in 2002, and he threw for just 123 yards a game last season.

Outside of Ole Miss and Alabama, LSU has a toughie with Arkansas, despite it being at home, and on the road in Week 2 at Mississippi State. Auburn comes into Tiger Stadium the very next week for a day game, too. Could LSU go 10-2? Sure. Could LSU go 7-5? Sure.

You’re not necessarily the only one in that group. Of players most would have expected to transfer this season, Kramer Robertson and Danny Zardon probably led the list. Zardon is gone. Robertson is staying, at least that’s how it appears.

And maybe that’s because he has a real shot to get a starting infield job. After all, LSU is losing all four infielders.

In an extensive postseason interview with Mainieri, the coach said that Robertson would compete for the starting shortstop job with incoming players O’Neal Lochridge and Trey Dawson. Robertson, who’s started several games at second base as a freshman in 2014, is an option at second as well. But he might have to hold off Delgado CC transfer Cole Freeman there.

Ah, the ole quarterback question. This is tough to answer, seeing as though LSU hasn’t started fall camp, but I will say this: Given Jennings’ suspension and Harris’ extra year with the program, Harris has more of a shot to play before Jennings than he did last season.

For the last six weeks – since Jennings’ suspension – Harris has taken over voluntary team workouts. Coaches and players have lauded his maturity, accuracy and leadership. Harris has every opportunity to take the gig from Jennings. It feels like things are moving in that direction, but who really knows?

A couple of returning players have a chance this fall to really reach out and grab a starting position: Kramer Robertson and Greg Deichmann. Robertson, as written above, will compete for the shortstop job and has shown in the past that he can play second base. Deichmann is a more difficult projection, but he needs to find that offensive production that he had in high school. Find it and Mainieri could find a place for him somewhere.

You get the feeling that these are make or break guys. They need to find spots with authority this fall or their LSU careers seem to be in limbo.

Mainieri suggested in our Q&A earlier this summer that he’d actually like to have Jared Poche as a No. 3 starter. The problem: finding a No. 2 starter. LSU couldn’t find anyone last season behind Alex Lange and Poche.

This fall is huge for three sophomores who eventually slipped from starting roles in 2015: Austin Bain, Jake Godfrey and Doug Norman. If there are any players to watch this fall, it’s those three, along with incoming Texas pitcher Cole McKay.

Not the best, but not impossible. The Tigers have to travel to Mississippi State in Week 2 and host Auburn in a day game in September (H-O-T) in Week 3. They’ll go to South Carolina, too. LSU is favored in all three of those games, but they obviously present problems.

It’s the back end of LSU’s schedule that’s the toughest, though, starting with Alabama. The last four games: at Bama, vs. Arkansas, at Ole Miss, vs. Texas A&M. Those are four toughies in a row.

Pretty well. The Tigers lost two of 16 signees – LHP Jacob Taylor and SS Mitch Piatnik. Coaches, at the time of his commitment, thought Piatnik would definitely show up. So it was a disappointment as it got closer to draft day when he began to slip away and ultimately signed a pro deal. He was expected to compete for the duties at shortstop.

They did keep highly touted Texas pitcher Cole McKay, an expected move that coaches knew about weeks out. McKay’s asking price was far too high for him ever to sign professionally. McKay was a top 100 player in the draft.

Trey Dawson, an infielder from West Virginia, turned down $600,000 to come to school. He’s expected to challenge for the job to replace Alex Bregman at shortstop. Meanwhile, RHP Riley Smith, a junior college signee, turned down $200,000 and appears to be an experienced arm who could see time early.

Top 9 Things To Watch In Fall Camp (before the media get kicked out): 9. Fournette returning kicks

Leonard Fournette's 100-yard kickoff return against Notre Dame showed his speed. (Travis Spradling)

Leonard Fournette’s 100-yard kickoff return against Notre Dame showed his speed. (Travis Spradling)

LSU players report for fall camp on Aug. 5 so we’re counting down to that day with a daily blog series on things to watch during camp. Traditionally, the media has been cut off from viewing practices at some point during camp so we might have to be quick with the observations.

No. 9: RB Leonard Fournette serving as LSU’s kickoff returner

Who’s Involved: Leonard Fournette, Trey Quinn, Travin Dural, Tre’Davious White, Donte Jackson, Jamal Adams, Trey Quinn, Derrius Guice, DJ Chark.

The Scoop: Leonard Fournette returning kickoffs has been a hot topic, especially among the fan base. Is he good enough? Isn’t that risking injury to LSU’s star player?

Fournette finished last season season averaging 26 yards a kick return. That ranked 18th nationally. Better than you thought, right? Fournette also returned a kick 100 yards for a touchdown in the loss to Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl.

Similar to his play in the backfield, Fournette eased into the kickoff return duties, hitting his stride late in the year. According to coach Les Miles’ comments last week, the sophomore will at least get a crack at returning kicks for LSU.

Leonard Fournette at SEC media days. (AP)

Leonard Fournette at SEC media days. (AP)

“He’ll certainly will get that opportunity. He sure was good last year,” Miles said.

Fournette expressed at SEC media days two weeks ago that he’d like to return kicks but that the decision is up to the coaches.

What Will We Watch Happen: Probably nothing. The window in which media are allowed to watch practice normally does not include special teams. We’ll have to question players and Miles during fall camp for information on kick returners.

Don’t count out those other guys listed above – especially a speedy rookies like Donte Jackson and Derrius Guice – but Fournette, it appears, is the man to beat for the job. LSU wants to get him as many touches as possible. Both Miles and OC Cam Cameron have said “15-20″ touches per game is the target – and probably the bare minimum.

The Countdown

  • No. 9: Fournette returning kicks
  • No. 8: ? (Wednesday)
  • No. 7: ? (Thursday)
  • No. 6: ? (Friday)
  • No. 5: ? (Saturday)
  • No. 4: ? (Sunday)
  • No. 3: ? (Monday)
  • No. 2: ? (Tuesday)
  • No. 1: ? (Wednesday)

Anthony Jennings discovers Periscope, but offers few insights

Late Sunday night, LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings made his first foray onto Periscope, a popular live video streaming app.

In his brief appearance, Jennings offered few insights, other than to say he though the Tigers would have a great season.

“I think we will be tremendous – SEC champions,” Jennings said. “I believe that.”

The Tigers junior took a few questions, none pertaining to his current legal situation or suspension from the LSU team. Jennings has been suspended since his arrest in late June with two other Tigers for unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling.

The brief Periscope session, which lasted only a couple of minutes, was Jennings’ first public statement of any kind since his arrest and suspension, and perhaps a snapshot into his feelings about his future with the start of preseason camp late next week.

LSU coach Les Miles said on ESPN last week that he believed Jennings will eventually be able to return to the team and competition with sophomore Brandon Harris. It’s Harris who has done the work with LSU’s offense during summer seven-on-seven drills.

“This has been cool,” Jennings said just before signing off. “Peace out.” The next time Jennings is heard from is likely to be Aug. 16 at LSU’s media day.

Twitter Mailbag: You asked about DT depth, the O-line and the QB battle

Vadal Alexander is settling in at right tackle. (AP)

Vadal Alexander is settling in at right tackle. (AP)

Twitter Mailbag is a blog series running each Tuesday answering readers’ questions about the LSU football team. Readers submit their questions through Twitter each Tuesday, and the best are posted here with answers. Follow us on Twitter at @DellengerAdv to submit a question.

We spoke to defensive line coach Ed Orgeron about this Tuesday at the LHSAA coaches clinic. Check out the second note in this notebook for what Orgeron said.

Basically, he doesn’t seem too concerned, but there’s no denying the fact that LSU is low on DTs. The team has five scholarship defensive tackles: starters Christian LaCouture and Davon Godchaux and reserves Quentin Thomas, Frank Herron and Greg Gilmore.

LSU is an injury away from having a starter and backup at each DT spot and nothing more. And two of the five scholarship DTs are Herron and Gilmore, who played sparingly as redshirt freshmen last year. However, there are other possibilities. For instance, Maquedius Bain, moved from DT to DE during the spring, could move back and play some DT.

Depending on your definition of weak, the DT spot could be seen as the weakest behind QB – if you’re talking about depth. LSU has just three scholarship QBs. As for its starters, the DT position could be seen as a place of strength with LaCouture and Godchaux.

Things are set at the tackle positions. Jerald Hawkins is at left tackle and Vadal Alexander is at right tackle. Ethan Pocic will start somewhere – either at center or left guard. That depends on a group of three others: Will Clapp, Andy Dodd and Josh Boutte. Those three, it seems, are in the mix for two jobs, with Dodd seemingly as a center-only option.

How will it shake out? Who the heck knows? OL coach Jeff Grimes on Tuesday didn’t offer much insight except to say that Pocic’s position depends on other players.

Remember, offensive linemen are prone to injury. The Tigers need to have seven to eight guys ready to play. Throw redshirt freshman Garrett Brumfield into the mix of those above, too. He seems to be just outside of that group.

I’ve had so many press box meals I really can’t say a favorite. LSU offered a few pregame football meals last season that were great. I like the good Cajun stuff – gumbo, crawfish etouffee, shrimp pasta.

Among my recent trips: Athens, Georgia. It’s a great town, one of my favorites. I got to spend about four days there this spring covering LSU baseball and had a grand time. Bars, restaurants and shops cover a large swath of what is a chill but lively downtown. The beautiful Georgia campus runs along the downtown entertainment scene to make for a great setting.

Tampa – for the Outback Bowl a year and a half ago – finishes a close second. After all, who doesn’t love palm trees, 80 degrees and beaches in December?

Plenty of people think true freshman Kevin Toliver, top 3 nationally at CB in the 2015 class, will start at cornerback eventually this season. He’ll have to beat out sophomore Ed Paris to do it, though.

Tre’Davious White has one cornerback spot locked down, and Paris is manning the other. There’s a pretty intense battle going on between Paris and Toliver, an early enrollee who participate in spring practice. That will ramp up when highly touted signees Donte Jackson and Xavier Lewis will start practice this fall.

Paris told us in the spring that this is “my time” with regards to the starting CB job.

Common sense would say yes. Jennings has now missed about five to six weeks of summer workouts for a suspension that stems from his arrest last month for unauthorized entry into a dwelling.

Coach Les Miles said Monday that Jennings’ arrest will end in a “positive” way and that he expects the QB to return to the team and the QB competition soon enough. But, still, Harris has run the voluntary 7-on-7 workouts with the team during the last several weeks, and players say he’s doing well.

You have to give the edge to Harris as fall camp looms, but it’s not a huge edge. It’s a tight starting battle with no real end in sight.

On The Record: Frank Wilson

Frank Wilson has coached LSU running backs, including Terrence Magee. (April Buffington)

Frank Wilson has coached LSU running backs, including Terrence Magee. (April Buffington)

Frank Wilson enters his sixth season as LSU’s running backs coach and recruiting coordinator. He’s pulled in top 10 signing classes in five of those six years and has tutored running backs like Jeremy Hill, Stevan Ridley and, now, Leonard Fournette.

He spoke to The Advocate on Tuesday during the LHSAA coaches clinic for a quick Q&A. Read the story version of the interview here.

Q: You have 17 commits and can sign 26 players this year. How do you plan on filling the nine open spots from now until National Signing Day?

Wilson: I think we’ve got some spots still at the defensive line position, more than anything at the defensive end position, we need to fill. A couple of linebackers we got to get in the boat and then, offensively, we’ve got a need at the tailback position and a couple of receivers.

I like where we’re at. I like the pace that we’re on right now, but probably more than anything just need to hold steady. As we all know, it’s just the beginning.

To be able to continue to cultivate that relationship to allow it to withstand the test of time is more important than anything.

Q: Other teams’ coaches trying to woo your commits away?

Wilson: Well, I think it’s on-going. I think it happened some time in spring when they had the one call they can make. As they try to encourage them to come on their campus for an unofficial visit for the summer time. They’ll do it again for their season as well as official visits.

It’s active all of the time. For us, it’s to be able to maintain and continue to recruit the ones that already committed to us and continue to recruit the ones that are not.

Q: You recruit years down the line don’t you?

Wilson: We have a guy (committed) at 2019. We have about eight guys in the class of 2020 from our youth camp that over time they continue to get bigger and faster and stronger and we get in our youth camp and kids come in and run a sub-5, it just catches your eye.

You’re 12 years old and you’re running 4.9, 4.8. That’s crazy. There’s no recruitment with those kids. All that happens at that point is we store their name in our database and we track them. It’s not truly recruiting, more identifying when you talk about the younger guys just entering high school or middle school.

Frank Wilson says he wants to be a head coach one day. (Kyle Encar)

Frank Wilson says he wants to be a head coach one day. (Kyle Encar)

Q: Wait. You’re tracking eight kids for the class of 2020?! They’re entering their eighth grade year.

Wilson: What happens is you watch it happen and as these kids mature they’ll say stuff to you like, ‘I came to your camp when I was in the seventh grade.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh really? Yeah …’ [laugh]

At one point, we never used to keep that data. It was youth camp. Instructional football. Now, when there’s a superlative, we take notice, we document it and we store it. There’s nothing more you can do.

They’re still growing into their bodies, understanding body control. It’s so early, you really don’t know. Some kids peak earlier than others. One of them may be doing something extremely well at this age and max out. The others may look gangly and awkward and develop later. It’s just a start for us.

Q: You came close to a head coaching position this off-season. How much is that a goal for you?

Wilson: It’s not a priority. In due time, when the right opportunity comes, when it’s there for me, it’ll happen. I love my job, love where I’m at. I’m not out soliciting. I’m not willing to take any job that’s out there. Jon Gruden probably said it best: when he came back to football, he’d like to be the running backs coach at LSU.

I’m very fortunate with the plethora of talent that we have in our backfield, assembled around a great offensive line and great defense. I like the job that I do. It’s a goal of mine, but nothing pressing that has to happen any time soon.